The sea's energy is being harnessed to feed the main power grid in Australia, which opens up immense possibilities for India

In what could signal a new opening for India in the energy sector, Australia has emerged as the first country to launch the wave energy to power grid project. This technological innovation could throw open new vistas for tapping the vast energy potential of sea waves washing the shores of India on three sides.

In order to give a fillip to the efforts to find new sources of energy, the Australian government has granted a $9.9 million grant for the project that has taken of in the West Australian port city of Fremantle near Perth.

The project is being executed by Carnegie which has been conducting trials of the technology over the past seven years. Known as CETA, the technology converts tidal and wave energy into electricity by anchoring large balloon-type structures to the sea floor that sway in the ocean's currents. The motion pumps pressurise water to a land-based turbine generator, where the electricity is fed into the main grid.

Carnegie has already signed memorandums of understanding with the Department of Defence of Australia — which is likely to be its primary customer — and West Australia's electricity retailer Synergy. “We are ready to share our innovation and technology in the field of renewable energy with Indian and Chinese companies. We have a huge set up of R&D and would certainly feel happy in sharing with the emerging South Asian economies,” Australian Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson, told The Hindu.

Chief executive, Michael Ottaviano, said that the wave generator would be built next year and would start producing power by the end of the year. “Realistically, I think five to 10 per cent of Australia's power requirements in the next 20 or 30 years' time could come from wave energy. We have proved that wave energy is a viable, reliable source of power and that then unlocks future projects,” he added.

Mr. Ottaviano said Australia was “perfectly positioned” to exploit wave power as it world-class waves and offshore engineering expertise through the oil and gas industry. “We want to capture the industry worldwide — that's where the value is. If we can own the intellectual property and export that, that's where Australia's big opportunities to innovate will be,” he remarked.

He pointed out that Carnegie had wave energy sites in Albany on West Australia's southern coast, South Australia, Victoria and NSW that would be trialled next. The Garden Island project will cost $31 million with $12 million in West Australia government funding and $16.25 million in capital-raising, in addition to the federal grant, which is part of its Emerging Renewable Programme.